Bonsai Techniques

Bonsai Techniques

 Fertilizing

by Lew Buller

 Japanese bonsai masters have been coming to California for years, either to demonstrate at conventions or to visit friends, or both. When they visit the bonsai collections here, they politely state “Your trees are under-fertilized.”

When Kathy Shaner brought her teacher, Yasuo Mitsuya, to my back yard, both were very polite and did not mention fertilizing. He was fascinated by the bougainvillea in my back yard and later, Kathy was able to find a large one and send it to him in Japan. 

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Bonsai Techniques

grass skirt

 Raffia

by Lew Buller

 For a special occasion, I made my wife a grass skirt. She wore it once and after that I was left with a lot of raffia and a need to find new uses for it.

It proved to be very versatile; in addition to using it to protect branches during wiring I used it in the following ways.

 

 

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Bonsai Techniques

 

Taking Photos of Bonsai

by Lew Buller

Equipment 

  Cell phone—If you have a cell phone, you know you can take photos with it. If you have it set up to  send email to your computer, you can email the photos to it. Send them as attachments, save them  and then open the saved files with a directory search, which should also allow you to preview the  photos at full page size. Throw away the bad ones and rename the others to identify their contents. As of early 2015, cell phones can take a 19mb photo.

You may wonder occasionally “How did I get such awful photos?” Here are a few tips that apply to all of the equipment that can be used to take photos: 

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Bonsai Techniques 

 

Tools

by Lew Buller 

Over a period of about 10 years, I spent the better part of $1,000 on tools. It sounded better if I told my wife I was spending only about $100 a year on tools.

You don’t need every tool in the catalog all at once; you need to acquire tools only as you are acquiring trees that require new skills and therefore need new tools.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive tools; less expensive tools kept clean, oiled, and sharp will last  many years. A trip through my toolbox shows tools that need to be acquired at different stages.

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Bonsai Techniques

 

healthy roots

Transplanting

by Lew Buller

A Chinese Hackberry that I have been growing for about 15 years provides a good example of the need for transplanting regularly and at the best time of year. 

In mid-June 2014, leaves began turning yellow and dropping. I tried more water, but that didn’t help. Then I tried pushing a chopstick into the soil and it wouldn’t go. Time to panic. 

The tree clearly needed fresh soil and when I finally found the date tag, it showed 5 years and 4 months since it had been transplanted last.  

 

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Bonsai Techniques

 

 

Wiring

by Lew Buller

Anodized aluminum wire is used on deciduous and thick-barked trees. It is less expensive and more easily available than copper wire. I used it until I learned to use copper wire and then used that almost exclusively. 

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